Winona State University & Road Scholar Celebrate 20 Years of Norwegian Heritage Partnership

Published: Friday, Dec. 15, 2017

For the past 20 years, Winona State University Adult & Continuing Education (ACE) has offered the Road Scholar program in partnership with the Commonweal Theatre Company and Cottage House Inn in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Led by Road Scholar Coordinator, Pauline Christensen, the partners designed and delivered a unique program to immerse students in a blend of professional theatre, Norwegian heritage, Amish Culture, scenic bikeways and rural life of southeastern Minnesota. Attendees explored the arts, historic architecture and cutting-edge theater.

Susan Floy, a Road Scholar student from Thornton, Iowa, commented, “Compared to other commercial tours, Road Scholar tours are always a learning experience wherever you go. These tours stretch your horizons and put you in places you never dreamed of visiting. You meet many new people and explore new locations along the way.”

2017 marked the culmination of 20 years of partnership with the Commonweal Theatre. “Through two decades of Road Scholar programming we have shown more than 400 life-long learners how we take a play from the written page to a full, professional production on the stage,” said Commonweal Theatre Executive Director Hal Cropp. “It was also important to us to include classes about life in rural southeast Minnesota. Teaching people with active curiosity developed by a lifetime of experience has always been one of the highlights of our year.”

In addition to being recognized for her work as the Road Scholar Coordinator, Pauline Christensen was also honored with the Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award at Winona State University in October, 2017. Pauline shared, “Throughout my time at WSU, I worked with wonderful people all along my personal and professional journey. The Road Scholar program gave me the opportunity to meet interesting lifelong learners who enriched my life.”

Winona State ACE is thrilled to continue developing new Road Scholar programs to offer high quality, affordable educational opportunities for adults. WSU ACE believes learning is a lifelong process. Sharing new ideas, challenges and experiences is rewarding in every season of life.

Road Scholar offers short-term, low-cost residential programs in the U.S., Canada, and over 70 other countries. An international network of educational institutions collaborates to create and coordinate programs to offer personal fulfillment to today's increasingly vigorous and independent older adults. For more information about Road Scholar, go to or call 877.426.8056.

Since 1989, the professional artists of the Commonweal have brought to life soulful stories told with honesty and creativity. Located in the heart of southeast Minnesota’s bluff country, Lanesboro (pop. 750) is home to the company’s theatre in its historic downtown. For more information about the Commonweal Theatre, visit or call 800.657.7025. 

High Caliber Training to Support High Caliber Care

Published: Monday, Nov. 13, 2017

Since 2016, Winona State University Adult & Continuing Education (ACE) has collaborated with Saint Anne of Winona (SAW) to design and deliver a high-quality customized training Saint Anne of Winonaprogram that is building the capacity of managers and the core leadership team at SAW.

Two years ago, SAW closely examined the training and development needs of their current and upcoming leaders, and it became evident that there was an opportunity to establish a common language around management strategies. There are 30 individuals in management and supervisory roles at SAW, some with extensive experience in leadership, and others new to the role of manager.

The SAW team is 275 associates strong and includes healthcare professionals from many disciplines including nursing, culinary services, environmental services, plant operations, therapy, recreation, administration, and support services. Strong leadership in each of these areas is key to ensuring that the care and services provided are consistent with the Benedictine core values of Hospitality, Stewardship, Respect and Justice.

Winona State ACE is thrilled to answer the call of meeting the training needs at SAW and is proud of this continuous partnership. Julie Kiehne, Business Outreach Coordinator, says, “The SAW team has been a delight to work with. The collaboration has been a win for the team as they gain expertise and strengthen their leadership roles.” Helping the SAW team gain new knowledge and advance their noble work as a care organization puts the Winona State mission of contributing to a “Community of learners improving our world” into action.

The processes of developing an annual training plan for SAW starts with their leadership team identifying the highest priority training and support needs for the year. The WSU ACE team then offers suggestions for curriculum to cover these topics. Workshops are scheduled at regular intervals and held onsite at SAW throughout the year.

Topics have included:

  • Communicating for leadership success
  • Addressing poor performance
  • Building and sustaining trust
  • Resolving workplace conflict
  • Engaging and retaining talent
  • Driving change

Each, workshop includes a trained facilitator, specified learning outcomes, interactive materials, the opportunity to practice new skills, and practical tools for applying learning in real life situations. Jodi Barton, Administrator and CEO of Saint Anne of Winona, says, “The feedback from the SAW team has been overwhelmingly positive.”

As 2018 draws near, a plan for continued training and learning at SAW is already in the works. “The opportunity to learn together and build our capacity as a team has been invaluable,” Barton says. “We are truly thankful to WSU ACE for offering a program of this caliber to the Winona area!”

Saint Anne of Winona (SAW) has served the immediate Winona and surrounding areas since 1962. They strive to create a senior living community where health, independence and choice come to life. This is accomplished, in part, by offering a continuum of care and support for older adults and their families on a campus setting. Services at SAW include short term transitional care, long term skilled nursing care, memory care, assisted living, adult day center and a certified nursing assistant training center. For more information about Saint Anne, visit or call 507.454.3621.

Customized Training at Winona State University is designed to meet the workforce needs of Southeastern Minnesota and the Tri-State region by helping industries and organizations create high-performance work environments, enhance employee knowledge and skills, and address skill-gaps through training tailored to individual needs. For more information on business collaboration and workforce training opportunities through WSU, contact Julie Kiehne at or call 507.457.5080.